Saturday, 29 September 2007

Shocking Image From History

The image to the right was taken this day in 2000. What happened before and after this still has seared itself into my memory and i clearly remember the whole newsroom stopping to stand and stare at the scene on the monitors in disbelief.
It happened in Gaza, two days after Ariel Sharon dismissed calls to cancel his visit to the sacred Haram al Sharif Mosque because of fears of the outcry it would cause in Palestine. He went anyway and the predicted riot ensued which led to this moment.
The father and his son were unarmed, and were not part of the rioting. They were returning from a used-car market and were trying to get home to the Buriej refugee camp where they lived.
Caught in the crossfire between Israeli troops and stone throwing Palestinians, the boy and his father cowered behind a small metal barrel as bullets rained around them.
The father is seen waving desperately at the Israeli soldiers on the other side of the road, as his son screams, obviously terrified, by his side.
Suddenly, the father falls backwards from the force of a bullet and his screaming son's body jerks as he is hit, and killed, by a volley of bullets.
Images of the killing of the 12 year old boy and the shooting dead of 16 youths armed with stones during the same incident caused an international outcry and did much to ratchet up the second Infatida that we see today.
The image of the small boy, scared witless as he cowered behind his father before being ruthlessly shot dead by Israeli troops still chills me today and is filed away in my brain as one of the most disturbing images i have ever seen, ranking up there with the Napalm burned girl running down the road and the Buddhist monk burning himself to death.

Keeping Huntley Alive

Infamous child killer, Ian Huntley, has been returned to prison after treatment for his third unsuccessful suicide attempt.
The hugely popular consensus was that the prison guard who found him should of just left him and come back in an hour just to check that he was dead.
Originally i was of the mind to agree, let him take his own life and i hope it hurt like nothing he had ever felt before.
Then it struck me, if he was hating his life sentence so much that he was willing to end his own life to escape it, i didn't want him to die.
I want him to sit in his cell, slowly rotting and regretting everyday of his miserable life as he serves his punishment for his evil deeds.
True, it would not bring back the two girls he murdered but i do not want him to be resting in peace, i want him fearful and racked with remorse and hating everyday of his miserable existence as his naturally allotted time on this planet slowly ebbs away.
So no, Ian Huntley should not be able to kill himself, he should be made to live every single day of his punishment and then if he is still alive at the end of his two prison sentences, leave the paracetamol box in his cell and then let him do what he wants with them.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Ron Paul For President?

Being a political animal i do tend to visit quite a few sites concerning the upcoming American election. I have stuck my colours to the Hilary Clinton mast (or Al Gore if he ever throws his eco-friendly hat into the ring) and she does seem to draw the largest amount of support but one name that i do see crop up frequently is Ron Paul.
Not hearing him mentioned as a supposed big animal, i didn't pay much attention and dismissed him as a long shot with little appeal who would drop by the wayside.
He does seem to be hanging on in there so i googled the guy and was pleasantly surprised at what i found, especially as he is a Republican who should be breathing fire & brimstone and looking for new ways to get Americans trembling under their beds in fear of the big bad World.
Mr. Paul turns out to be a Texan who supports a non-interventionist foreign policy. He voted against the Iraq War Resolution and the Patriot Act and is opposed to the death penalty.
With the instantly dislikable McCain, the imploding Giuliani and that guy from Law & Order being the main competition for the Republican candidacy, Ron Paul might fancy his chances.
If he is still poodling about when the field starts to whittle down he could be a dark horse because he seems to have quite a wide-ranging fan base from the moderate right and the left. He could be one worth keeping an eye on.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Ahmadinejad Goes To America

There is something of 2002 in the air as an American President tries to demonise a Middle East leader and beats the war drums. What is different now is that the man being painted as the bogeyman this time around has landed slap bang in the middle of America to fight his corner.
Where as Saddam was unable to be anything but a face on the TV screen and helpless to defend himself against the accusations aimed at him, Iranian President and latest Bush nemesis Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has no intention of being steamrolled by the man who beats the war drum the loudest to the tune of 9/11=Afghanistan=Iraq=War on Terror=Iran.
Ahmadinejad has been putting the Iranian side of events on US Television interviews, at US Universities and the United Nations, waving an olive branch and in a brilliant piece of propaganda, making it look as though the only person talking about starting yet another Middle East is the same man who started the last one.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is making sure he will not be an unseen, or unheard, bogeyman however much we abhor his views on the holocaust, homosexuality or the unethical way he runs his own country.
As for his embarrassingly toe curling statement that there are no homosexuals in Iran, i think a certain Joseph Massad, author of the book , Desiring Arabs, may be keeping his head down for a while considering he has been pushing that same line for years now.
Who is Mr Massad? Only a professor at Colombia University.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Wrong Target General

The head of the British Army, General Richard Dannat, has been bemoaning the fact that the British are antipathetic and indifferent to the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The General is calling for homecoming parades and for soldiers to be given free admission to sporting events adding that the public should understand what young British soldiers were doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gen Dannatt said: "We must move from being a society that uses the military as a political and media football, and more towards seeing the military for what it is - the instrument of foreign policy conducted by a democratically elected government acting in the name of the people."
And that, Mr Dannat, is where you are either completely naive or worryingly ignorant because our 'democratically elected government' went against the opinion of the majority of the country and a good slice of it's own cabinet to send troops to Iraq.
If you want an answer to why we do not greet our soldiers in the streets with parades and ticker tape showers, it is because we did not want to send them to war in the first place so you are directing your exasperation at the wrong people, we will not be celebrating the instrument that has successfully killed over a million people and destroyed a foreign country based on lies and spin.
If you have a problem with your men being used as a political tool direct your
anger at the Government that sent you there, not the people who tried to stop the madness.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

History Not Looking Good For Rudy

I am about to make a startling revelation. Ready for this?
Rudy Giuliani is NOT going to win the US presidency. No way, no how, never in a month of Sundays.
And what do i base my arrogant certainty on? Glad you asked because the reason is gleaming back at you. He is bald.
Sniffing another half-arsed theory brewing, i rifled through my US Presidents poster and came to the conclusion that of the 43 US presidents, only 5 of them were not blessed with what could pass for a proper amount of hair.
The baldilocks were John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, James A Garfield and Dwight Eisenhower. Gerald Ford is a bit of a grey area because he stepped in for Nixon and never got elected in his own right but even adding in his time served, out of 218 years of Presidenting from George Washington in 1789, there has only been 23 years of baldness in the White House.
There is a trend to this anti-baldy idea because during 286 years of British Prime Ministers, from Robert Walpole in 1721, there have only been 6 domeheads in Downing Street (George Canning, Charles Grey, Robert Gascoyne Cecil, Winston Churchill, Clement Atlee and Alec Douglas Home) with a pathetic combined total of 35 years between them and even that is including Churchill's 5 years during the 2nd World War when he was not PM in his own right but part of a coalition Government.
So there you have it, supporters of Giuliani may as well take down those window posters and peel off the bumper stickers because short of a hair transplant, history says your man has as much chance of getting the keys to the White House as him living down once being married to his own cousin.

Sink Like A Northern Rock

Financial problems at Britain's 5th largest money lender and who gets the blame? Not the Bank executives for taking risks with other peoples money, but the customers for having the audacity for removing their life-savings from the floundering bank Northern Rock.
After receiving a £4.4bn last resort loan from the Bank of England, the Northern Rocks Chief Executive Adam Applegarth (£760,000 pa) tried to assure its customers not to panic and to trust it with its money. Queues of nervous bank users then withdrew their cash leading to the bank of England Chairman Mervyn King (£276,647 pa) to repeat that everything is fine and appealed to Northern Rock customers not to close their accounts. Still the queues outside every one of the banks branches.
Even the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, (£187,611 pa) tried to placate the masses with his message for calm and to trust the bank to return itself to an even keel but still the Northern Rock shares plummeted as people took their chances with stuffing their money under the mattress rather than the sinking Northern Rock.
And the morale of this story is that it is not that we don't believe you Mr Brown, Mr King, and Mr Applegarth when you say that NR will come through the crisis, it is just the nurses (£15,000 pa) pensioners (£3640 pa), school teachers (£19,000 pa) and basic wage earners (£11,440 pa) who make up the majority of your customers just don't trust you enough to do what is best with our own money.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Fancy Meeting You Here

Someone must of given Rudy Giuliani some duff advice and not just because the Republican
Presidential candidate has landed in London during his campaign for office, an office over 5000 miles away in another continent.
As if rubbishing our Health System was not enough, he then went on to gush about
one of the most vilified Prime Ministers this country has ever had in Maggie Thatch, bar the last incumbent of 10 Downing Street.
'I'm probably one of the four or five best known Americans in the world,' Giuliani boasted which beggars the question, who are the only 4 Americans Rudy puts above himself?
An even more important question is why is he trying to convince us Brits of his great qualities and popularity? We don't give a stuff so shouldn't he be in his own country trying to convince Americans that he's not just a Bush clone with a really stupid comb over?

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Israel Staying Strangely Silent

Something curious going on in the Middle East tonight involving muddled reports of conflict between Israel, Syria and involving North Korea.
Israel are never shy of telling the World of the latest bombing mission against whoever they take aim at but this time they have pulled down the shutters and enforced strict censorship rules on its media and banned even the most senior officials from discussing the raids.
According to leaked reports, Israeli jets entered Syrian airspace and bombed and destroying a facility which they believe was North Korean nuclear material before Israeli ground forces were sent into north eastern Syria to target another site.
Other reports put Israel in a daring game of provocation to force Syria's hand and give it no option but to go to war with Israel.
Thus far Syria has only admitted Israel breached its airspace but insists it did not bomb anywhere, merely dumping its munitions instead.
Syria has warned it will respond to the incursion into its territory which would see an horrendous escalation of violence in the Middle East, probably drawing in Iran who have a defensive pact with Syria.
Either Syria have been discovered building a nuclear bomb with help from North Korea or Israel have been caught red-handed deliberately provoking, Suez style, another Middle East conflict.
If it is the latter, the UK and US fingerprints will be all over it, i guarantee it.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Beyond Words

A seven-month-old baby has been shot dead "execution-style" while strapped into a car seat.
The boy's 21-year-old father was also gunned down in Sacramento, California.
Police said the man had taken his son with him to visit friends. He left the child in the car and went to knock on his friends' front door. When it was answered, two other men forced their way inside.
Officers said that, in the ensuing melee, the father was shot at least twice in the upper body.As the pair fled, they stopped to shoot the infant in the head.
Investigators initially believed the child had been killed accidentally by a stray bullet, but later determined he was shot dead deliberately.

There are no words to describe how i felt reading this. It is one of those rare occasions that i wish i hadn't stumbled across the story. Truly is sickening beyond belief.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Sometimes, They Shouldn't Come Back

I was 9 when the Sex Pistols exploded onto the scene with their God Save The Queen and Anarchy in the UK anthems so when the chance came to see them live in the 90s, i went pogoing down to the ticket office, flobbed over the seller and came away with a ticket to their Finsbury Park 'Filthy Lucre' Tour.
The euphoria of seeing a band that were of such historical importance lasted as long as it took for me to clap eyes on guitarist Steve Jones carrying a pot belly crammed into tight, tiger-striped trousers.
Musically, the Pistols were as expected but I was forever left with an ugly aftertaste and the vision of the angry young men of the 70's singing politically charged songs and spearheading probably the greatest genre music has ever known, replaced by middle aged men going through the motions and looking every inch a band out of their allotted slot in history.
This leads me to consider the news that Def Leppard are dragging their aging carcases back onto the stage this year following in the footsteps of other 80's phenomenons such as The Police, Prince and Guns 'N' Roses.
All great in their day but their day has long passed and never to be recaptured. All you will get for your money from any of these is a caricature of the people they were as they wheel through their greatest hits which is fine if that is what you want from the gig but don't for a second expect what is on the stage to match what is in your minds eye when the concert starts.
There is a place for band reunions and they give a chance for a generation to relive their youth and music from their era played by the band that created it, possibly drawing in a new younger fan base but i always remember my experience of Elvis.
Forever in my parents eyes he will be the young, good looking man of the late 50s and early 60's, to me he conjours up the bloated and pathetic figure decked out in a white, rhinestone cat suit.
Johnny Rotton shouted "We are fat, 40 and back!" to the Finsbury Park crowd that day and unfortunately, that is the image i get whenever i hear a Pistols song now. That and Steve Jones belly hanging over his tiger-striped trousers.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Did I Hear That Right?

There has been two events this week that have had me digging a finger in my ear and wondering if my hearing was going.
Firstly was the case of 20 members of the anti-arms group 'Campaign Against Arms Trade' who were arrested outside of this weeks London arms fair.
The event is a showcase for all manner of weapons systems, ranging from tanks and missiles to rocket launchers and high powered rifles.
In delicious irony, the protesters demonstrating against this haul of weaponry being flogged to whatever despot had the cash, were arrested for 'suspected breach of the peace'.
I can only think that the police thought the people buying these weapons were going to use them for purely decorative purposes.
The second time i was diving for the Q-tips was hearing the Russian general boasting to the World media about the bomb his country has invented that is four times more powerful than the American Mother Off All Bombs.
'All that is alive in a 2 mile radius is evaporated' the Ruskie gloated before adding 'despite its destructive qualities, the bomb is environmentally friendly'.
Phew, that makes it okay then, i was worried for a second there.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Lay Back & Think Of Russia

September the 12th is not especially significant except in parts of Russia where the workers have been given a half day to go home and have sex.
Ulyanovsk has today declared a 'Day of Conception' and is giving couples time off from work to bonk each others brains out.
The idea is to raise Russia's population which has been dropped in recent times and as today is exactly 9 months away from Russia's National day on June 12th, it is time for the dimming of lights and some Barry Whiteski on the CD player.
As an added incentive to do the deed, everyone who has a baby in the local hospital on June 12th will win some kind of prize ranging from electronic goods to a car.
As the typical Russian workday is 8 hours long, and each couple has been given a half day to have sex, the greatest problem for most of the women could be what exactly to do for the other 3 hours and 55 minutes.
I would suggest training to be a midwife because they will be in great demand next June.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Yet Another Prostitution Solution

The government wants police to nick men who pay for sex. For years the law has come down heavily on girls who sell their bodies but not on their customers, the men who fuel the trade. Will prosecuting men who pay for sex lead to fewer women taking up the world's oldest profession?
Highly unlikely, so why not just legalise it?
A similar law which criminalised men who paid for sex was introduced in Sweden eight years ago, but instead of ending the practise, it simply become more hidden, placing the women involved in it at greater risk of violence.
If the government wants to help remove women from a life of prostitution, it needs to offer help, training and a realistic chance of employment and provide counselling and support to those who are emotionally damaged and addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Doesn't matter which gender of the brief sexual relationship you try and criminalise, it is not going to stop until we learn to help those prostituting themselves instead of wanting to constantly punish them.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Differing View Of The Surge

'The military objectives of the US troop surge in Iraq "are largely being met", the top US military commander in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus, has said.
He told a Congressional panel that violence had declined significantly since the surge began in February.


That's one view so lets see what the Iraqi's themselves are saying. For that side of the story let us turn to this ABC/BBC poll conducted in more than 450 neighbourhoods across all 18 provinces of Iraq last month.
70% of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated in the area covered by the US
military "surge" of the past six months.
Between 67% and 70% believe the surge has hampered conditions for political dialogue, reconstruction and economic development.
Only 29% think things will get better in the next year.
Over half (53%) said US troops should stay until security improved including the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Malki, pleading today for the Americans not to leave until Iraq was ready to defend itself.

Someone is lying about the situation in Iraq or else the General had a very different view of matters from behind the safety of the heavily fortified Green Zone to those having to live in less secure neighbourhoods. I really don't put much faith in the group that once claimed Mission Accomplished and that the insurgency was on it's last legs.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Bin Laden's Makeover

We have all grown used to Bin Laden's video's by now. The usual fare is he sits there making threats to blow us all up in our beds and generally wipe us all off the map.
Occasionally the editors drop in a few scenes of armed men running around at some training camps or some such but unless you are a terrorist, it is all much the same old yawnfest.
Yadda yadda death to infidels yadda yadda and so on and so on. And those clothes and unkempt appearance, not the most TV friendly wardrobe you could of picked Bin baby.
Finally, the Al-Queada leader has had his wardrobe assistant shot or beheaded or something because he has turned up in his latest propaganda video appearing to wear a freshly-trimmed and dyed beard and gone are the fatigues of previous appearances.
Despite the image we have of Bin Laden hunkering down in dank, dark caves and crippled in pain from his diseased kidneys, the Saudi has had the time to pop down to the local chemist to purchase a bottle of Raven Black and a beard trimmer.
As he turns 50 this year, the murderous despot could be suffering some form of mid-life crisis so expect him to turn up in his next video gunning a Harley Davidson, wearing a shirt with the top few buttons undone and treating us to the riff of Smells Like Teen Spirit on a Fender Stratocaster as he calls for our downfall.

Blimey, We Won?

The words 'English' and 'sporting success' are rarely ever seen together in the same sentence but this weekend, the land of tea drinkers have been treated to a sporting style avalanche.
On one sunny Saturday afternoon India, America and Israel were all sent off with their tails between their legs and mumbling to themselves about how the hell did they lose to those pasty faced Englishmen.
Impressive against India at cricket, annihilated America at Rugby and Incomparable against Israel at football, we actually don't have to blame the referee for anything or point an accusing finger at Johnny foreigner for cheating us.
Not allowing the thought that the teams we beat are hardly giants in these sporting fields to ruin things (USA play Rugby?), we should all raise a cup and saucer to the mighty English sporting teams and bellow 'We are England, hear us roar!!
Better make the most of it because we all know by the end of the month it is back to being Pulverised by Portugal, Whipped by the West Windes and ambushed by Australia and it will be more a case of 'We are England, hear us whimper pathetically'.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Sideshow Bush

The quote 'Border relations between Canada and Mexico have never been better' set the tone for George Bush's grasp of geography. Everything else that followed set the tone for him being a muppet.
In what must rank as the most gaffe prone press conference ever, Bush did everything but poke his own eye out with the microphone.
"Thank you for being such a fine host for the Opec summit," Mr Bush said to the Australian prime minister, John Howard, confusing two completely different groupings of nations. "Apec summit," he quickly corrected himself.
Not one to make one cock-up when he can quite easily make two, he then thanked the "Austrian troops" for their work in Iraq.
Then, speech done, Mr Bush confidently headed out - the wrong way. He strode away from the lectern on a path that would have sent him over a steep drop. Mr Howard and others redirected the president to where there were steps leading down to the floor of the theatre.
If only a few rakes had been left laying around on the floor, we could of had a spectacular Sideshow Bob moment.

Madeleine Tragedy Takes A New Twist

For the past 127 days, whispers have dogged the McCann family as they dashed around Europe but today they turned into boos and jeers with the news that Madeleine's mother, Kate McCann, has become a suspect in the "death" of the missing four-year-old.
A large crowd whistled and shouted at Mrs McCann as she arrived back in Portimao for more questioning after detectives quizzed her for 11 hours yesterday.
A family member has claimed she was offered a deal by police - that she would serve only two years in prison if she admitted accidentally killing her daughter.
Police are said to believe that Madeleine was killed accidentally and that her body was hidden, then moved and hidden again.
After studying new evidence found by two sniffer dogs highly trained in finding blood and corpses, Police have suggested that traces of Madeleine's blood was found in a car hired by the McCanns 25 days after their daughter's disappearance while they also turned up a scent of a corpse in the child's bedroom.
Gerry McCann's sister Philomena said Mrs McCann was offered a deal through her lawyer to confess to killing her daughter by accident and then disposing of her daughter.
Mr McCann is now being questioned in the same police station in Portimao, Portugal.
Understandably, the feelings of everyone for the parents have moved into a grey area somewhere between sympathy and suspicion but for a growing minority, they were in the suspicious zone a long time ago.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Oh well, summer holiday over and hi ho, hi ho, it's back to blogging we go.
I wasn't around much in August but didn't know what to do with this blog while i was out and about gallivanting.
So what should we do with our blogs when we are off on our jollies?
Should i have made an announcement that i am not going to be about much for the next 4 weeks or was i right to just drop by every now and then for a few minutes to keep it ticking over?
A friend offered to take over for a month but it didn't feel right handing over the keys to someone else.
Anyway, i am now back to do more of the usual mix of Bush baiting and hippy tree hugging crap that i usually do.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Stunningly Bad Decision

Until now British police have been armed with a truncheon, handcuffs and a pointy helmet with the idea of arming our officers being mooted but dismissed as a step too far. As a halfway option, some police forces have been trialing the Taser stun gun.
The trials complete, the Association of Chief Police Officers will now make Tasers "readily available" for "conflict management" at incidents of "violence and threats of violence of such severity that they will need force".
Until now, Tasers, which emit a 50,000-volt electric shock, have been used only by specialist officers as a "non lethal" alternative to firearms. However, they can now be used against all potentially violent offenders even if they are unarmed.
Chillingly, the decision not to ban their use against minors and tests whether the weapons could cause a miscarriage if used on a pregnant woman, is raising serious concerns.
Those of us who are old hands at protests have seen the baton charge by the riot squad, have heard the sickening thud of baton against skull or kneecap and wonder just what lays in store for future demonstrators.
It is not the idea of stun guns i am against, i really cannot say with my hand on my heart, that i trust the people wielding them. Indiscriminately thrashing your baton around is bad enough, blindly firing 50,000 volts into a crowd of protesters is another thing entirely. As is shooting children with what has proved to be a lethal dose of electricity.
CBS NEWS states Tasers killed 10 adults in America last month alone and now the Home Office says it’s ok to use them on kids?
Should i even be typing that last sentence outside of some future dystopian novel?